Integrative Review of the Recent Literature on Human Resilience: From Concepts, Theories, and Discussions Towards a Complex Understanding


  • Clément Métais
  • Nicolas Burel
  • Jane E. Gillham
  • Cyril Tarquinio
  • Charles Martin-Krumm


Resilience may be viewed as the capacity of an individual, or perhaps of a dynamic system, to adjust and adapt positively to adversities and disruptions that impact one’s functioning and development. Yet a common statement in the literature is that there are still today numerous ways of defining and conceiving resilience. This multiplicity of approaches calls for clarification and generates a need of common theoretical ground. Therefore, this review aims to examine, to clarify and to synthesize how “human” resilience is conceptualized within the recent human sciences literature to help answer the question: ‘What are the key approaches, concepts, and definitions of resilience?”. Following Whittemore and Knafl (2005, methods, an integrative review of the recent resilience literature (2013–2019) was undertaken. Four databases were used for the search: PsycINFO, PubMed, ERIC, Google Scholar. A reference and citation tracking was then performed on the papers identified. Sixty-nine papers passed all the stages (identification, screening, eligibility, inclusion) and formed the sample. Results show that resilience definitions are nowadays either about “adapting and bouncing back to previous levels of health” or about “thriving and rising above the adversity towards increased levels of health.” Results also show that resilience features—antecedents, mechanisms, consequences—are mainly conceptualized in a vertical sequence where an antecedent influences another or influences a mechanism leading to consequences. This paper concludes that modern conceptions can fit within a transactional and constructivist approach that goes beyond the former approaches by providing a more nuanced and realistic picture of the resilience process and by viewing it as a dynamic and person-situation-defined process.